February 28, 2005 2:14 PM PST

Illinois seeks to restrict violent games

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Two Illinois legislators introduced a proposal on Monday to ban sales of violent and sexually explicit games to children, the latest in a series of efforts to crack down on gory games.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Deanna Demuzio, both Democrats, sponsored legislation authored by Gov. Rod Blagojevich that would subject retailers to a fine of up to $5,000 and a year in prison if they sell a restricted game to anyone under 18.

The bill makes Illinois the latest in a string of state and local governing bodies to tackle growing concern over increasingly graphic games. California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Michigan all have similar proposals working their way through the legislative process, despite the failure of previous efforts to pass judicial scrutiny.

Courts have overturned laws in the state of Washington; St. Louis County, Mo.; and Indianapolis that made it illegal to sell violent games to minors, in each case ruling that games are constitutionally protected speech, and age restrictions thus must be limited to the type of discretionary systems used for movies, books and other media.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups argue that graphically violent games such as the recent hit "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" desensitize children to real-world violence and encourage them to imitate what they see on the TV screen.

"As a society, we've agreed that children do not have a right to certain things that pose a risk to their health or development: things like cigarettes, alcohol and pornography," Blagojevich, also a Democrat, said in a statement. "We know violent and sexually explicit video games pose a direct risk to kids, so we should make every effort to keep them out of kids' hands."

Game industry supporters argue that the industry already has an effective system--content ratings assigned by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and voluntarily imposed by retailers--to ensure that objectionable games aren't sold to children without a parent's consent.

A representative of industry trade group the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

The proposed Illinois legislation could pose additional logistical challenges in that it doesn't rely on ESRB ratings but instead sets its own definition of objectionable content. Games would be restricted if they "include realistic depictions of human-on-human violence, in which the player kills, injures or otherwise causes serious physical harm to another human, including but not limited to depictions of death, dismemberment, amputation, decapitation, maiming, disfigurement, mutilation of body parts or rape."

It's unclear where that leaves games such as the recent smash hit "Halo 2"--rated "Mature" by the ESRB--in which bodily harm is almost solely inflicted on large reptiles from another galaxy.

8 comments

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Not having violent video games makes me violent.
Seriously, they should start by banning people from having kids until they can demonstrate they are responsible enough to raise a child.
Posted by (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
But how would you enforce it?
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
It's too late
People now only know how to exist under the Nanny State. I want my filled milk, but noooo can't buy it here 'coz the big nanny in Washington tells me I can't. So there you have it. Parents A don't know that kids just purchased "Vice City '05" with allowance money they gave the brats - the only solution is for the nanny to come in and stop them.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed.
I agree wholeheartedly! As a geneal rule this country is trying to use legislation instead of having parents be parents. As adults we know that violent games are just that - games. Where did we learn that? By government telling us it was illegal? Nope, our parents taught us in some fashion or another. As I child I used to do some pretty mean things to G.I. Joe but I sure know the difference between playing Armyman with an inanimate G.I. Joe vs a real person. What kind of home environment does a kid have to have to actually do serious harm to another human at the age of 10 or 12? Legislation won't change bad parenting.
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
Not having violent video games makes me violent.
Seriously, they should start by banning people from having kids until they can demonstrate they are responsible enough to raise a child.
Posted by (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
But how would you enforce it?
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
It's too late
People now only know how to exist under the Nanny State. I want my filled milk, but noooo can't buy it here 'coz the big nanny in Washington tells me I can't. So there you have it. Parents A don't know that kids just purchased "Vice City '05" with allowance money they gave the brats - the only solution is for the nanny to come in and stop them.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed.
I agree wholeheartedly! As a geneal rule this country is trying to use legislation instead of having parents be parents. As adults we know that violent games are just that - games. Where did we learn that? By government telling us it was illegal? Nope, our parents taught us in some fashion or another. As I child I used to do some pretty mean things to G.I. Joe but I sure know the difference between playing Armyman with an inanimate G.I. Joe vs a real person. What kind of home environment does a kid have to have to actually do serious harm to another human at the age of 10 or 12? Legislation won't change bad parenting.
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
 

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